Disney Sets Quarterly Earnings Record of $2.5B

Revenue rose 5% to $13.1 billion, but that was below analysts' estimates of $13.23 billion.
Matthew HellerAugust 5, 2015
Disney Sets Quarterly Earnings Record of $2.5B

Walt Disney reported net income of $2.5 billion for the third quarter, setting a new quarterly record, but its shares dropped amid disappointment over revenue.

Disney’s earnings of $1.45 a share beat analysts’ expectations for the 11th quarter running and were up 13% year over year. Wall Street was expecting earnings of $1.42 a share, according to a consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters.

Revenue increased 5% to $13.1 billion, but that was below analysts’ estimates of $13.23 billion. After the earnings report was released Tuesday, Disney shares dropped about 6.4% in after-hours trading, to $114.

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“Disney’s results reflected the shifting fortunes of television and movies inside the media conglomerate,” The New York Times said. “For years, cable television — primarily ESPN — drove results while movies and related businesses like consumer products took a back seat. At least lately, however, the roles have been reversed.”

Walt Disney Studios’ operating income rose 15% to $472 million, reflecting the success of “The Avengers: Age of Ultron,” which has generated $1.4 billion at the global box office. Sales of “Avengers,” “Star Wars,” and “Frozen” merchandise delivered operating income of $348 million, a 27% increase from a year earlier.

But while Disney’s cable networks division, which includes ESPN, Disney Channel, and ABC Family, posted operating income of $2.1 billion, a 7% increase, the broadcast television division, which includes ABC, reported a 15% decline, to $300 million, because of higher programming costs and lower ad revenue.

During a conference call, Disney CEO Robert Iger suggested that cable television may become less of a driver for Disney in the near term. “We’re realists about the business,” he said, acknowledging that some consumers are putting “both the cost and value” of cable subscriptions under “a microscope.”

Investors have become concerned that Disney’s cable dollars could be in jeopardy because of financial pressures on the bundling of cable channels.

“There’s some challenges and certainly the cable breaking of the bundle is one of those,” Martin Pyykkonen, a senior research analyst at Rosenblatt Securities, told CNBC. “I don’t think this is a severe problem, right now at least.”

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